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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tangerine Dream

The Official Bootleg Series, Vol. 1: Reims Cathedral, December 1974 & Mozartsaal, Mannheim October 1976

Review by Gary Hill

The title of this set really goes a long way toward telling what this is. It’s a four CD set (two discs from each show) chronicling two live Tangerine Dream performances. This is all instrumental. It moves from electronic ambient to space rock and more. These are extended jams that don’t shift or change too quickly. This isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do track by track, but I can’t shirk from the challenge.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One

                   
Reims Set One

Atmospherics start this and the cut gradually and very slowly builds out from there. It’s about two and a half minutes in before it even hints at something all that different. Even then, the transition is very slow, almost glacial. By around the four and a half minute it’s begun to rise into something more like space music. This is very much like a sonic ocean. In some ways it seems constant. Yet waves of sound rise and fall. There is an ebb and flow. At times bits of sound come to the surface and take command, but they always drop back down below the waves after a while. There are some parts here that feel downright ominous and dark, yet there is really a beauty to all of it. There are things that sound decidedly organic and living. There are other things that feel synthetic. There are symphonic moments, too. Around the 28 minute mark we’re taken into some serious space. It gets rather noisy and synthetic as it continues. There are hints of something like Hawkwind at times. It comes back down to Earth much later with some jamming that brings some world music and other elements to the table. It eventually becomes more synthetic and rather noisy as it keeps building outward. It eventually gets mellower before ending. This piece is more than 45 minutes in length.

Disc Two
                
Reims Set Two

Winds blow as echoey, trippy lines of sound bounce around. That creates something that’s definitely psychedelic space music. Around the six minute mark it shifts to something more like whale song accompanied by spacey music. It gets weirder as it moves forward, feeling like some trippy movie soundtrack. Eventually it moves out toward more melodic sounds. There is almost an Asian feel to some of the melodies that emerge. After an extended period of sonic evolution, the piece seems to threaten to explode into some rocking space music around the 19 minute mark. It doesn’t really do that, though. Instead it works toward something a bit like a freeform jazz meets soundtrack take on things. The gradual transformation continues with the piece working towards space music again. Around the 27 minute mark it really does get science fiction like in its arrangement. By around the 30 minute mark it gets some really trippy space infused. That gets noisy and chaotic as it grows. It works toward mellower music later that is symphonic, but also accompanied by weird sounds like a storm. Those “storm” sounds eventually end it.

Disc Three
             
Mannheim Set - Part One

Trippy atmospherics and sound effects start this. There are definitely psychedelic elements and play. The cut grows in a gradual manner turning more toward pretty atmospheric space music. This evolves and works through some intriguing musical arrangements. It’s quite mellow, but also quite pretty. It works out toward more energized electronic sounds after a while. It gets into some definite electronic music territory for sure as it builds. This is quite cool stuff. It’s one of the more extended melodic passages of the whole set. This piece is actually one of my favorites here. It gets quite beautiful. It also has some definite electronic energy in some reserved ways.

Mannheim Set - Part Two
Chaotic dissonance starts this. Then piano turns it into a jazzy kind of jam as the only instrument. It gets a bit spacey from there as more dissonance emerges. As the piano continues it’s solo performance we’re brought into something that feels a lot like Beethoven to me. Other elements hint at arrival as support. There are some annoying bits of crowd noise on this piece. Around the four minute mark it really starts to emerge as a more filled out arrangement. It becomes a cool electronic jam as it continues to evolve. This works out to some seriously hard rocking jamming. It’s the most intense movement of the whole album. The jamming continues although it does turn more electronic in the process. It eventually calms back down and works toward mellower electronics to continue.
Disc Four
          
Mannheim Encore - Part One

Jabs of sound create the impetus for the electronic jamming that emerges here and gradually evolves. There is some cool energy and great spacey electronic sound built into this beast. It builds out to a more rocking sound as it continues. This makes me think of early Pink Floyd at times. Some world music aspects emerge in some of the jamming later. There more electronic musical concepts return as this works forward from there. It really gets pretty intense as it continues making its way forward. We’re taken out into some serious space further down the road. Weird electronics with sound effects takes the cut at the end.

Mannheim Encore - Part Two
Space effects with drumming leads things off here. It gradually grows outward from there. There is some seriously rocking guitar soloing later that brings into more psychedelic jam band territory. Yet some hints of Hawkwind like space rock are also heard. This is more of a loose form jam than the rest of the music here. It’s good stuff and a nice change.
 
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